Men’s Basketball: Northwestern overcomes sluggish start, grinds out win over Houston Baptist


Daily file photo by Rachel Dubner

Scottie Lindsey drives to the hoop. The junior guard led NU with 19 points.

Aidan Markey, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

It wasn’t pretty, but Northwestern earned its eighth consecutive victory Thursday as it closed non-conference play with a 72-63 home victory over Houston Baptist.

The Wildcats (11-2) struggled mightily before halftime, trailing by as many as 12 points to the Huskies (4-6), but surged in the second half thanks to dominating defense.

NU entered the game averaging 10.8 turnovers per game, but tallied seven in the opening half alone against Houston Bapist. The sloppy play kept the Cats from finding a scoring rhythm, and they entered the break trailing their underdog guest 35-25.

“We just had a hard time getting going,” coach Chris Collins said. “The thing I was proud of at halftime was that we didn’t panic.”

In the second half, NU sharpened its play. The Cats turned the ball over just three times and intensified their defense, holding the Huskies to eight made field goals after intermission.

Along the way, NU found a way to overcome an off-night from its guards. Though junior guard Scottie Lindsey scored a game-high 19 points, Lindsey and backcourt partner junior Bryant McIntosh combined to shoot just 10-37 from the field, leaving the Cats in search of production from other players to fuel its comeback.

NU found a boost from its second unit. Freshman guard Isiah Brown and junior forward Gavin Skelly provided 12 and 7 points, respectively, off the bench.

“Over the past couple of games, we started to kind of hit a little groove in production,” Brown said of the team’s bench play. “(Skelly’s) played really, really well.”

From the starting lineup, sophomore forward Vic Law had timely offensive rebounds and baskets — despite struggling for much of the contest — and finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin notched 11 points and nine boards for the team as well.

Though Houston Baptist went down swinging, the Cats closed out a successful non-conference campaign in position to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid with success in their conference slate. NU will head to Penn State on Tuesday to begin its Big Ten campaign against the young but talented Nittany Lions.

Though he is satisfied with his team’s performance so far this season, Collins said the team must now be ready to compete in one of basketball’s toughest conferences.

“It’s a new battle that starts next Tuesday,” the coach said. “11-2 doesn’t mean anything. (Our) record’s now 0-0.”

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